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Florida Southern runner Scott Mackley wins Times Turkey Trot

CLEARWATER — An impressive group of runners lined up at the start of Thursday's 10-kilometer Turkey Trot (a 6.2-mile course).

Scott Mackley, however, made sure it wasn't much of a race.

At the sound of the gun, Mackley broke for the lead with only a handful of runners beside him. They did not have his company for long.

By the time he passed the second mile, Mackley had made his move and was well ahead of the field.

The Florida Southern cross country runner won in 31 minutes, 37 seconds. The closest of the distant others, Nathan Holden, trailed Mackley by 46 seconds. Lee Stephens was third, 54 seconds back.

"I wanted to make a move quickly and drop the other runners," Mackley said. "It just helps free up your mind, and you can start concentrating on your splits."

Initially, Mackley considered running in the 5K Wingding (a 3.1-mile course). But he decided against it because his college teammate Tyrone Bell would be in that race.

"I thought this would give us a chance to both win," Mackley said.

Turns out he was right.

Bell dominated the 5K, winning for the second straight year, this time in 15:06.

"I really didn't know how well I'd do this year because I was not feeling well," Bell said. "I wanted to surge after the first mile. That was my strategy. I wanted everyone to know I still meant business."

In the women's 5K, Jacki Wachtel won for the second straight year; her time was 17:38.

Former Keswick Christian and USF standout Christa Benton blew past the field in the women's 10K, winning her fourth straight title in 36:27, more than two minutes ahead of her closest competitor, Wachtel (38:46).

"It's always easy for me to go out fast," Benton said. "It was perfect race weather. I'm just thankful we all have healthy bodies and go out and run in a race like this."

There were 14,910 runners who bundled up and hustled out on a chilly morning to participate in the 30th annual Times Turkey Trot. That number was down from the record 16,506 who registered last year, race director Skip Rogers said.

"The turnout was about what we expected," Rogers said. "It was hard to ask for anything more, especially in this economy."

Bob Putnam can be reached at putnam@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4169.

FAST FACTS

Race winners

10K Turkey Trot

Scott Mackley31:37

Christa Benton36:27

5K Wingding

Tyrone Bell15:06

Jacki Wachtel17:38

Gobbler 1-Mile

Nick Ferrer4:36

Kendra Miller6:20

Turkey Trot video

Buy a 40-minute video celebrating the Turkey Trot, one of the Tampa Bay area's best-known foot races, at tampabay.com/store. The video, which costs $12.95 (including shipping and handling), features three decades of photos, plus this year's race.

Florida Southern runner Scott Mackley wins Times Turkey Trot 11/27/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 28, 2008 5:45pm]
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